First Capitol Riot Trial Begins With Texas Man Who Was Armed With A Gun
Opening statements were delivered Wednesday in the criminal trial of a Texas man charged for his alleged role in the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot, making him the first participant to stand trial.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey S. Nestler told the Washington, D.C., courtroom that Guy Wesley Reffitt acted as “the tip of the mob’s spear” the day of the riot, NBC News reported.
Nestler highlighted several alarming statements Reffitt, a former oil rig worker, allegedly made at the Capitol that were captured via the GoPro camera strapped to his helmet.
“We’re taking the Capitol before today is over, ripping them out by their hair. Every fucking one of them, dragging them out kicking and fucking screaming. I just want to see Pelosi’s head hitting every fucking stair on the way out, and Mitch McConnell, too,” Nestler quoted Reffitt as saying, according to CBS News.
William Welch, Reffitt’s attorney, said his client was prone to making bold statements that he didn’t really mean.
“Guy does brag. He exaggerates and he rants. He uses a lot of hyperbole, and that upsets people,” Welch told the court in a very brief opening statement, The Washington Post reported.
Unlike other Jan. 6 defendants, Reffitt is not accused of assaulting any law enforcement officers or breaking into the Capitol.
But while he did not go inside, Reffitt, an alleged member of the Three Percenters militia group, boasted that he was “packing heat,” according to the government. Reffitt has said the gun was disassembled. Prosecutors say Reffitt also came equipped with a bulletproof vest, flex cuffs and a megaphone.
He has pleaded not guilty to five felony counts including unlawfully carrying a firearm in the Capitol ― which has strict rules about weapons ― and obstruction of government proceedings.
Welch tried unsuccessfully to have the trial moved outside of Washington, D.C., arguing that prospective jurors would be tainted by their proximity to the attack and the deluge of media coverage surrounding it. But during jury selection, many said their exposure to riot-related news had been limited, reported WUSA 9, a local CBS affiliate.
In the year since the deadly riot, federal authorities have arrested around 750 people for allegedly taking part.
Many of them have accepted plea agreements, and some have offered various apologies for their actions.
But Reffitt has expressed no remorse. In a defiant pretrial letter, he reportedly declared himself a political prisoner and said he was ready to “receive the bullet of freedom.”
Reffitt’s two children are expected to testify against him at trial to describe how their father allegedly threatened to shoot them if they did not keep his part in the Capitol attack quiet. According to court documents, Judge Zia Faruqui called Reffitt’s daughter “incredibly compelling as a witness.”
Reffitt also allegedly tried to destroy evidence linking him to the attack and pressured others to do the sam.
He was arrested just two weeks after the riot thanks in part to his son, who had flagged his father to the FBI in late 2020 because he was alarmed by Reffitt’s plans, court documents say.